By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.
Now that you’re sober, the real work can begin.
That may seem like an insulting statement for those who have struggled through detox to get to the other side of withdrawal. But, as with any truth that’s difficult but necessary to hear, it may be a shock to the system to read words that imply your likely painful experience in detox is merely the tip of the iceberg. Still, it’s true.
Your journey is just beginning.
Sobriety and recovery are two completely different things. In fact, though most active addicts tend to assume that being sober would be enough, that’s merely the first step. And, without recovery, it’s not only sobriety that is threatened. Sanity eventually goes out the window too and serenity is not a possibility.
That’s exactly why it is necessary for individuals who have entered a state of sobriety through detox or other means to seek real recovery. Moreover, it’s important to strive for a handful of things in the recovery process to keep sanity intact and serenity in reach.
Sobriety – Getting sober is something you’ve already achieved. You must take a moment to celebrate that victory. However, finding new ways to celebrate most anything will require that you do the work to stay sober.
Typically, in recovery, individuals require support to maintain sobriety. It isn’t enough to merely detox and move along with life. Most newly sober individuals seek sober communities, recovery groups and sober living situations. Any or all of the three are great ways to maintain sobriety, especially when new to recovery.
Sanity – A great deal of dual diagnosis occurs with active addiction. As such, once you are sober, it is necessary to treat or continue managing any dual diagnosis issues. Depression, anxiety and other mood and personality disorders can quickly hinder your sobriety and prevent recovery.
As such, it is necessary to plug yourself into therapy and begin facing any unresolved emotional, psychological and/or spiritual issues. Regardless of the existence of a diagnosis, active addiction and the experiences that accompany it are enough to require emotional recovery. Additionally, it is vital to continue managing any diagnoses requiring medical therapies through the appropriate means suggested by your healthcare provider.
Self-Love – In order to truly solidify recovery, one must learn to love oneself, unconditionally. The latter is the difficult part.
It’s seemingly quite easy to love ourselves when we are achieving our goals and accomplishing our dreams. But what if we’ve been wrapped up in an active addiction for so long we let our dreams and goals pass us by? Then it might not be so easy to love ourselves. More importantly, we might not find it easy to forgive ourselves.
That’s where the self-love stage of successful recovery begins; forgiveness. We must forgive ourselves and embrace who we were, are and that which we now strive to become.
Spirituality – A vital piece of successful recovery is spirituality. It is key to a delicate balance that offers us the ultimate goal of inner peace. And, as such, it is necessary to find ways to regain a sense of spirituality after achieving sobriety.
Spirituality is not the same as religion. As such, church or organized religious beliefs are not necessary here. But striving for spirituality by finding a higher power and seeking the higher self is.
Serenity – Once the aforementioned stages are achieved and remain a part of daily existence, serenity, or a newfound sense of inner peace, is not only a possibility. It is guaranteed.
And, for the record, once serenity is accomplished, relapse in thinking or behavior is no longer necessary. You simply evolve.
Remember, you’ve taken the first and most vital step. Now, let your journey begin.